You know the holidays are fast approaching when you start to feel that unmistakable winter chill in the air and coffee shops start selling eggnog latte and delectable holiday treats. The colorful window displays become dead giveaways of upcoming festivities, coaxing people to buy copious amounts of stocking (and stomach) stuffers for friends and family. The holidays… ‘tis the season for joy and giving after all!
In the midst of all the parties and feasts, let’s not forget that not everyone may be feeling the spirit of the season despite the streets strung with bright and sparkling lights. There are people out there who have needs rather than wants. There are people who have virtually nothing, and those who have no one.
To add meaning to your holiday celebrations, make this season a little more enjoyable for others. Spread holiday cheer by giving the gift of time. There are many ways you can volunteer over the holidays. Here are a few ideas:
1. Adopt a Family. The holidays are all about family, and when it comes to family –the more, the merrier! Why not adopt a family and extend your shopping list this season? Make a family’s dreams come true by giving them gifts – anything from essential household items, special holiday treats, and toys and games for the kids! You might be surprised to find that shopping can be an extremely fun activity for the whole family or your group of friends/co-workers – especially when it’s for someone else that will greatly appreciate it!
There are many non-profit organizations that offer an Adopt a Family program allowing you to play the role of Santa to an appreciative family: Salvation Army, YMCA Calgary, Inn from the Cold, Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS), Discovery House, Calgary Womens Shelter, and NeighbourLink.
2. Wrap it up! Sometimes how a gift is wrapped makes all the difference, making the receiver feel extra special. Offer your gift wrapping prowess to friends, family, or anyone who might need a helping hand. The Mustard Seed has a large inventory of donated toys that need to be wrapped and ready for Christmas morning!
You can also use your artistic skills to raise funds by volunteering to wrap gifts for shoppers who make donations to non-profit organizations like Calgary Family Services(Sunridge Mall) or Meals on Wheels (Westbrook Mall) this December!
3. Happy Holiday Hamper! Nobody has to get a lump of coal in their stockings. There’s plenty to go around for all Calgarians, if we share. A lot of non-profit organizations are assembling holiday hampers for their clients to ensure that everyone has a happy holiday especially the most vulnerable of us.
Donate gifts to Santa’s Secret Service or volunteer to sort and deliver donated items. As a Secret Santa volunteer, you help bring joy into the lives of isolated seniors who might otherwise receive nothing for Christmas. Calgary Family Services also needs volunteers to sort, pack and deliver holiday hampers for seniors. If you want to lend a hand, contact email@example.com.
Hurry up and help pack the hampers. The holidays are fast approaching!
You might also want to get on Santa’s better side by volunteering to assist someone who really needs help at places like Accessible Housing Society, which houses individuals with mobility barriers in homes. You can help by volunteering to shovel for a fellow Calgarian in need of assistance. Or better yet- adopt a driveway for the whole season! Give someone the freedom to come and go despite the snow, and feel good knowing that you are making your city a more accessible place. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-735-2433.
The City of Calgary is another place to check out for city-wide snow shoveling opportunities. Check out their website here.
What are you waiting for? Grab a shovel and be a Snow Angel!
For instance, if you love winter sports, you can provide ski & snowboard support at the Canada Olympic Park ski hills! Apply at www.winsportcanada.ca or contact Jocelyn email@example.com.
If you can play a mean musical instrument, get some exposure and make some music to bring some cheer to different audiences this season. Why not set up stage at a nearby hospice or shelter and set the ambience for a wonderful time?
The Salvation Army Christmas Kettle Campaign needs solo acts or groups of up to five to give performances alongside traditional donation kettles around Calgary. Perform Christmas carols or some of your own tunes at malls and downtown buildings between November 18 and December 24 and help raise funds! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-410-1122.
Think of something that interests you or anything you’re good at… and volunteer to do just that!
6. Spend time with special people. Share the joy of the season with those that may be feeling a little left out – a lonely relative, an elder, a foreign friend, a stranger. They are all around you, if you dare to look. Offer a smile, a coffee, or a little chat. A little bit of your time can mean the world to someone else.
Sign up to cook and serve food at local shelters like the Drop-In Centre, The Mustard Seed, or Inn from the Cold. Sit down for a meal and share laughs with them.
Join the happy campers at Easter Seals Camp Horizon – a Christmas camp for adults with disabilities. Help campers have fun through various holiday activities like baking, arts & crafts, caroling, theatre, and outdoor activities. For a week spent at camp, you get a holiday like you’ve never experienced before! Contact email@example.com or (403) 949-3818, ext 28.
Step out of your comfort zone, expand your social circle, and have a jolly good time!
7. Visit your local volunteer centre. Open your eyes and your heart and find a worthwhile way to volunteer this season. There are so many ways to volunteer this time of year and it can be immensely rewarding too. Keep your eyes peeled for events around your communities, schools, workplace or churches. Check out the volunteer centre! In Calgary, Volunteer Calgary is the place to go.
Volunteer Calgary will be rolling out special weekly Holiday Volunteer Highlights for the months of November to December featuring seasonal volunteer opportunities. Stay tuned for those! In the meantime,visit www.volunteercalgary.ab.ca for all sorts of volunteer positions!
Make the holidays a truly special time not just for yourself, but also for those who may not be as blessed. Happy holiday volunteering!
**If you are a non-profit member organization of Volunteer Calgary, please post your holiday volunteering opportunities on the website and we’ll make sure to include them in our Holiday Volunteer Highlights special! Don’t forget to include the keywords “Holiday” or “Seasonal”!